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What causes gum problems?
A healthy mouth is host to a complex and dynamic community of bacteria. In fact, the presence of oral bacteria is generally beneficial to the well-being of the mouth. Problems begin when there is a change in the balance of the bacteria in the mouth. Oral bacteria are able to adhere to teeth and gums in the form of dental plaque, which is the soft, sticky film that forms on teeth every day. If dental plaque remains for a prolonged period of time, it turns into a hardened calcified deposit called tartar that sticks to teeth near the gums. Tartar cannot be brushed or flossed away. Furthermore, tartar creates an environment for more dental plaque to accumulate. With the overgrowth of dental plaque and buildup of tartar, the balance of oral bacteria in the mouth shifts to unhealthy proportions.
With the presence of dental plaque, the gums respond with inflammation. Our body's immune response through inflammation is the process that can ultimately lead to loss of gum attachment, or "periodontal ligament" and jawbone deterioration.
Other causes of gum problems may involve foreign bodies affecting the gums, such as poorly contoured dental work, or sensitivity to material in dental work. Viral infection can also be a cause of gum disease.
In the case of oral cancer, changes at the microscopic level within a cell can occur. Our bodies have mechanisms to destroy this abnormal cell, but sometimes, the cell is able to escape these mechanisms and progress to develop cancer.